SHARK 2 パラサイトシングル was released in June of 2015 on the up-and-coming vaporwave label Midnight Moon Tapes. As the name suggests, MMT specializes in releasing experimental vaporwave and other electronic music on cassette tapes. This album has a lot of neat compositions on it. Unlike other vaporwave artists that I’ve heard, G A M E S H A R K ™ uses samples of orchestral excerpts. This simple difference in stylistic approach to contemporary vaporwave makes for a very interesting release.
SHARK 2 パラサイトシングル opens in a very interesting way. Compared to the movie dialogue and teaser track that started Saint Pepsi’s Hit Vibes and the extremely experimental and other-worldly sounds of Sacred Tapestry’s Shader, “Time” is almost exclusively acoustic and orchestral. Throughout the minute-long intro, a dissonant guitar arpeggio plays in time with a ticking clock. The monotonous sound of the clock along with the other instruments creates somewhat of an existential crisis for the listener. “Time” is different, but it works. How else is a shark with a martini supposed to make you feel?
“Sedated”, the album’s first shot at contemporary vaporwave, is a really neat composition. G A M E S H A R K ™ follows in the footsteps of many vaporwave artists before them in the way this track is composed. This track begins with skipping low-end samples at various speeds before settling into a cohesive rhythm. Throughout the song, there are distant voices in the extreme left or extreme right channels. You can’t quite make out what they’re saying, but it’s made obvious that someone is there. The vocal samples share sonic space with other glitchy sounds, all of which are run through a high-pass filter in order to sharply contrast the existing bass line. Having such high-frequency sounds and chirps in only one channel can be jarring at times, but overall the effect is fairly nice.
One part of the album that confused me was the implied duality between “Desolate” and “Isolate”. The two tracks are stylistically polar opposites, and yet they are placed in conjunction with one another on the album. “Desolate” is a worldly orchestral composition, whereas “Isolate” is almost exclusively electronic. Parts of the latter track seem to manipulate acoustic instruments themselves or alter existing recordings of them. The tracks on their own sound nice, but I’m not entirely sure whether or not they have anything to do with one another.
More often than not, the samples on this album aren’t altered much. While I’m not opposed to compositions without chopping or looping, the effects used at the very end of “Closed” makes me wish this idea was expanded on. Until this point in the album, very few acoustic-based samples were altered. To me, “Clouded” seems like a great fragment of an idea in the form of a 46-second sequel to “Introspection”.
The highlight of this album is its final track, “Existential”. Though instrumentally very simple, this track functions very well as a pleasant and conclusive ending to the album. Like “Sedated”, there’s a distant voice speaking about something the listener can’t quite grasp.
SHARK 2 パラサイトシングル is a really interesting album. While the songs themselves are nice on their own, the sporadically different styles across this album were unexpected, though not quite out-of-place. The track titles vaguely convey themes of existentialism and general ill-being, the content of the songs don’t always reflect these ideas. As stated before, the back-to-back songs “Desolate” and “Isolate” feel like they should mean something more, but they don’t. If they do, it’s incredibly subtle. Despite these thematic irregularities, I enjoyed listening to this album.
Favorite Track: Existential
2 responses to “G A M E S H A R K ™ – SHARK 2 パラサイトシングル (2015)”
I didn’t get the “shark with a martini” comment until I saw the album’s cover art!
GAMESHARK here, just stumbled across this. Thanks for taking the time to listen/review.
Oh hey fun facts time! Also some notes on a few things you mentioned:
I don’t particularly consider this record Vaporwave, not primarily anyway. It’s heavy on samples, sure, but it’s hardly in the same boat as other releases. But I’m not going to argue the pigeon-holing since there’s not much else it fits under.
The orchestral pieces are not all sampled, many are arranged specifically for this release. The goal was to make it so it becomes difficult to tell what’s sampled and what isn’t, and I suppose since everyone thinks it’s all sampled or all composed, I did a good job of that? The third SHARK record is even more.. like that. I think.
On that note, the reason there’s “not much altering of samples” is there’s a lot of instrumentation being performed/looped throughout. Samples and such are added in as things progress, or are subtlety altered per track. And every song has at least 2-6 loops in them, on top of the composed parts. Some tracks are a little simpler/minimal in their edits as they’re more segue tracks than anything, or are from the other record (as I mentioned on Bandcamp recently, SHARK 2 was an amalgamation of two WIP albums that worked well combined). I like repetition though, which is why things don’t change more than I feel they need to.
The shark with a martini cover just really appealed to me and the mood set by the record. As you pointed out it’s most definitely bleak and existential (though SHARK 3 is far more heavy in the latter). I suppose to me it was more a look into self-destructive depression? I imagine a shark breaking down and getting drunk every night. Not that I do personally, but yknow, it’s all about the concept I guess.
The vocal samples on Sedated are (almost) all from tape manipulations, sourced mostly from self-help call lines and those “self-meditation” (or whatever you’d call them) CDs. The self-help lines get pretty bleak at moments. Some of the extra voices (mostly the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’) were added by Nmesh.
Sedated was actually inspired by a few Dark Ambient artists, the light beat underneath was added for flow.
Desolate and Isolate are unrelated. Desolate was titled more in the adjective sense and Isolate was more in the verb sense. They are kept close together for their connection, you were correct, but that’s the only real fun fact about those two’s names.
I’m not sure if you’re referring to the EQ change at the end of Closed or the glitchy opening of Prostrate as far as the effects go. I liked the glitchy opening though, I wasn’t sure if it’d work but I think it helps to set the track up.
Clouded is definitely a segue track. I don’t think it was ever meant to be anything more than it was. Weary is the longest “segue” track, in that it kinda developed into a full length piece. It was the most developed of the tracks from “the other album”, but it also was missing substance (till the synths and such were added later). In any case, yeah, Clouded is pretty much just as it is. Another track was originally in its place, but it was too long (even longer than Weary) and had too much drum pattern altering to feel like the segue it was supposed to be. So, Clouded went there instead. I still have the unused tracks from SHARK 2, I’ll probably put them on something in the future.
Existential is probably my third favourite track, after Retrograde and Disengage. It was also going to be a single at one point, along with the other two mentioned, but the unused tracks mentioned above didn’t feel like they fit it. In the end it’s actually a perfect transition to SHARK 3, which is full of existentialist guitar heavy music. That’s the same reason the earlier tracks on SHARK 2 are more “traditional Vaporwave”, I suppose. It was meant to lead in from the straight forward 85% sampled Vaporwave of the first record, to the less sampled/more composed music of SHARK 2. Now, that last track leads into the even heavier composed music of SHARK 3. I guess I also like rocking the boat and stirring things up sometimes when it comes to my music.
Anyway, sorry to go on a bit of a note ramble there. I just appreciated your in depth response to the record, so I figured you would appreciate a bunch of inside info in return! I think your review might explain some of the influx of likes to the Facebook page, which I always am baffled by, but appreciate them trickling through with little to no advertisement of it on my end.
If you’re curious about SHARK 3 at all, give me a yell sometime and I might share a sneak peek.
Take care, keep up the well structured reviews; they’re a breath of fresh air compared to most others I’ve read lately, especially in these sort of genres.
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